The Progress Toward Legal Weed In All 50 States

0
250
Photo Credit: WCVB

Red states, blue states, purple states… the one thing most of us who are not Jeff Sessions can agree on in 2018 is the need for more green states on the map. Support for marijuana legalization this year hit an all-time high (puns!) with nearly two-thirds of Americans favoring broad recreational legalization. Happily, states are moving pot laws forward, and they’re moving them fast.

Seven years ago medical marijuana was legal in only 17 states and the District of Columbia; recreational marijuana was legal in zero states and zero Districts of Columbia. Today, medical marijuana programs are on the books in 29 states, and the nine best states allow for some degree of recreational use. For years the West Coast set the pace, but now New England is making serious moves toward legal weed — and even some red states, where GOP politicians are seeing the tax windfall enjoyed by trailblazers (more puns!) like Colorado and Washington, are suddenly of the opinion that marijuana is not so bad.

Welcome to the State of the Weed Union 2018, your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about which states are stacking hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue by legalizing and/or not paying to imprison non-violent drug users, and which states are… not. As voters and state legislatures adapt, we’ll update this story and the map accordingly.

Before we light up here, a quick primer on some terminology — don’t worry, this isn’t for a test, unless you count the possibility that you misjudge your state’s weed laws and do in fact end up in prison. In that sense yes it is for a test.

RECREATIONAL

Nine states and DC have, to varying degrees, seen the light and allowed residents to get lit. But contrary to what at least one of you currently reading this believes, “legal” recreational weed does not mean, like, fully and unconditionally legalized blazing in the streets in front of God and everyone. Usually it means if you are over the age of 21, it’s fine to keep modest amounts on your person or in your home, maybe grow some plants, and occasionally smoke in public. You might recognize such rules in your dealings with a similar legal recreational substance, “alcohol.”

MEDICINAL

Twenty-nine states have medical marijuana programs, but not all are currently operational and some only cover a limited range of medical conditions. Many states without medical legislation still allow for limited use of CBD — aka Cannabidiol, the cannabis compound that has a huge variety of medical properties but is not psychoactive (i.e. it doesn’t get you high, unlike its better-known counterpart THC). CBD is widely used to help manage epilepsy and ease symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and nausea.

ILLEGAL

Yeah. Nah. Pretty straightforward.

DECRIMINALIZED

Decriminalized basically just means no jail time. A state hasn’t fully legalized recreational marijuana, but it has made possession of small amounts (usually 1 ounce or less) punishable by, at worst, a fine. Some states still classify it as a misdemeanor, but removing the threat of incarceration is an important step, since for years this country has been throwing people in prison for carrying as little as a single joint — with black Americans four times likelier to be arrested as white ones, despite equal rates of marijuana usage. Some decriminalized states also have medical marijuana programs.

Alabama — Illegal

Starting off on the opposite of a high note (last joke, I swear), possession of literally one single joint in Alabama is punishable up by to a year in prison. These days, a lot of people are arrested and charged with possession but few are actually convicted — those who are convicted, though, are overwhelmingly black men. A medical marijuana program would be an excellent way for Alabama to begin making reparations for Jeff Sessions (born: Selma; died: TBD), but don’t hold your breath. Carly’s Law does permit low-extract CBD (meaning it contains less than 3% THC) to treat severe epilepsy in children age 5 or younger.

Alaska — Recreational

The fourth state to legalize recreational weed, right alongside Oregon and DC back in 2014. The caveats: You have to be 21 or older to buy from dispensaries, and the legislation only allows for possession of 1 ounce or less. Any more than that is a misdemeanor; 4 ounces or more is a felony. No growing more than three mature plants (no more than six total). No smoking in public, either.

Arizona — Medicinal

“I started smoking my sophomore year of high school, around 2009. At that time my parents weren’t together and my father lived across the country in Arizona. Yet somehow he had a hunch that I’d started to dabble with marijuana, so he told my mom to search my room. Of course I’d dropped a dime bag under my bed, which led to me taking and obviously failing a drug test, which led to my mom shipping me off to Arizona in the middle of the school year to live with my father. Oh, and a few weeks later my sister got caught and there were no repercussions.” — Anonymous

It remains a straight felony in Arizona to possess any amount of recreational weed, but the state does have a robust medical-cannabis economy, with around 130 dispensaries serving some 160,000 patients. Patients with any of a dozen or so conditions — such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic pain — can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces. Arizona also recently became the 35th state to legalize hemp (containing 0.3% THC or less).

Arkansas — Medicinal (not yet operational)

So Arkansas technically has a legal medical marijuana program, but actually enacting it has been a hugely dramatic ordeal and as of this writing it remains more or less in limbo. In theory, once the program is operational the state should have up to 32 dispensaries licensed to treat patients with a wide range of medical conditions. When it comes to recreational usage, though, possession of 4 ounces or less is a misdemeanor for first-time offenders; after that, (or if you get caught with more than 4 ounces, whether it’s your first time or not) possession is a felony charge.

California — Recreational

“When I moved from New York City to San Francisco two years ago, I was totally unprepared for how mainstream and normalized weed culture was here. I grew up in 1970s Marin County, California, so it’s not like I hadn’t been around weed, but there was always an air of illegality about it that is TOTALLY gone now.

Literally the first party I went to was a cocktail party full of folks like me — upstanding parents approaching middle age. The host welcomed us in and said, ‘Hi! Food is over there, drinks are on that table, and edibles over there.’ No biggie.

Later that year we had a dinner party and most guests brought bottles of wine. Then one came in and, after dumping his coat said, ‘Hey — brought you this. It’s from our neighbor up at our house in Mendocino,’ and handed me a jar of large, very potent-looking buds.” — Ocean MacAdams

For my birthday one year, when I was at school in California, a friend used his medicinal card (sickle cell anemia; he was very* ill**) to get me a brownie I was told would get me weird for about six hours. I ate just two-thirds of the thing and was high for — and this is factual — a day and a half. Have you ever been high on one single thing for a day and a half? Like, after a certain point I had shit to do. I had to meet with a TA. (*not **remotely ill in any way.)

Afroman was born here, and it’s more normal to bring edibles to a dinner party than a bottle of wine, yet it is still a misdemeanor to sell any amount of recreational weed in Cali. Still, it’s legal for adults 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce and to grow as many as six plants. As for California’s medical marijuana program, you can grow as many plants as it takes to meet your individual medical needs.

Colorado — Recreational

I lived in Colorado for a full 18 years and all of them were before the state legalized in 2012. I resent this, because I was not cool in high school and did not know cool people from whom I could acquire supercool drugs like weed. These days, you can drive down Broadway and pass a dispensary like every 10 seconds. Today’s children will never know the struggle.

Legally you gotta be 21 or older to possess your allotted quantity of recreational marijuana (1 ounce). But it is legal to transfer it (i.e. share it around with friends for no financial compensation), which is not necessarily the case in other states. Those using it for a medical condition can have up to 2 ounces, plus grow up to six plants (three of them mature).

Connecticut — Medicinal and Decriminalized

Ugh, Connecticut did come close to legalizing recreational weed but ultimately put it off, probably for at least another year. Still, the state has already taken the crucial step of decriminalizing it for very small amounts. Possession of a half-ounce or less is punishable by a fine of $150 (first offense) or $500 (subsequent offenses) but no jail time. Growing or distributing herb remains a felony. Connecticut is the only state whose medical marijuana legislation excludes minors, which is a bummer, but that nonsense is expected to change later on in 2018. And on the plus side, the tiny state has nine medical dispensaries that serve more than 25,000 patients.

Delaware — Medicinal and Decriminalized

Fully legalized recreational marijuana is proving to be kind of a journey for Delaware, but for now at least the state has decriminalized possession of 1 ounce or less — meaning no jail time and an easy peasy fine of $100. But it’s still a criminal offense for minors to smoke, or for adults to smoke in public. The state has medical cannabis legislation allowing for possession of up to 6 ounces (no home-growing, though) and the number of registered patients has ballooned during the last two years.

Florida — Medicinal

Weird™ is already Florida’s well-established brand, but it is still not a place where you can legally Get Weird™. Recreational possession of 20 grams or less (0.7 ounces; don’t act like you knew) is a misdemeanor that can land you in prison for a year. More than 20 grams is a felony — about five years, possibly more. The state does have a medical marijuana program, but it’s not as comprehensive as what you’d find elsewhere. It’s limited to CBD — containing no more than 0.8% THC — and for only a few of conditions. Terminally ill patients can qualify for a higher level of THC, but it’s more difficult to come by. No home-growing, either. Check out Thrillist’s complete guide to how to get medicinal weed in Florida.

Georgia — Illegal

“I was driving from Auburn, Alabama, to Jacksonville, Florida, with four friends to go see the Florida-Georgia game. We were riding in a Jeep Cherokee and two pledges were in the trunk part of the SUV, on top of the luggage. If you’ve never driven through south Georgia, imagine the emptiest parts of The Walking Dead and add a sprinkle of cop cars hiding behind overgrown grass. TL;DR: we got bored. Joints were rolled up, windows were rolled down, weed was smoked. Jeep was pulled over.

The cop says he smells marijuana and puts the driver and guy in the passenger seat in the back of his squad car. He opens the trunk to search the vehicle. Two pledges fall out. Cop laughs and continues to search our stuff. He never finds the weed because the guy in the passenger seat had hidden it in his shoe, then swallowed what was left of the joint. Cop dumps all our shit on the ground and says he’s taking the two guys in his car to jail for testing unless we give up the drugs. We give up the drugs. Cop thanks us and says, “I’ll let you go since y’all are leaving the state anyway.” He pocketed the weed, helped repack our bags and pledges into the trunk, and drove off. Most worrisome 30-minute traffic stop I’ve ever been in. We didn’t get tickets, but it was still pretty expensive what with all the weed and ‘paraphernalia’ he ‘confiscated.’” — Nickolaus

Georgia’s policy is more or less the same as Florida’s, with recreational possession of 1 ounce or less corresponding to a misdemeanor charge and anything more than that to a felony. First-time offenders can usually opt for probation rather than face jail time, so that’s something. On the medical side, Georgia allows for more qualifying health conditions than Florida does, but it’s still CBD-specific. Licensed patients can have up to 20 ounces of CBD oil containing up to 5% THC. Still no home-growing. Here’s everything you need to know about weed in Georgia.

Hawaii — Medicinal

Some good news! In Hawaii recreational possession won’t get you a felony charge until you’re caught with at least a pound (though it remains a felony to sell or deliver more than 1 ounce). And first-time offenders who successfully make it through probation get a clean slate — the state will expunge their record. Hawaii has an operational medical marijuana program serving more than 20,000 patients, and those patients can grow up to seven plants, mature or otherwise.

Idaho — Illegal

Weed is, like, very illegal here. Possession of 3 ounces or less is a misdemeanor; more than 3 ounces is a felony. Since there’s no medical program on the books, those amounts correspond to the same charges whether you’re using it recreationally or not. But this libertarian-leaning state miiiiight be inching toward medical legislation. Might be. Slowly.

Illinois — Medicinal and Decriminalized

“About 12 years ago, while moving from Michigan to Oregon, I stopped in Chicago and purchased a tiny bag of weed to get me at least to South Dakota. Near the small hamlet of Edwardsville, I saw a sign that read something to the effect of ‘mandatory drug-search checkpoint ahead.’ I’d just roasted a bone in the truck and needed to pee, so I pulled into a rest stop and did my business only to return to a canine unit outside my car. A thorough search revealed … an eighth of weed and a roach. The state cop on scene was actually embarrassed watching the local cops take pictures with my tiny bag. Apparently they were looking for cocaine shipments into Chicago but hadn’t gotten any hits, and as a result were very excited to have landed… an eighth of weed and a roach. The state cop apologized about 50 times and started talking to me about The Dead because I had an old sticker on my car.” — Andy Kryza

Illinois has decriminalized recreational possession of 10 grams (0.35 ounces) or less — $200 fine, no jail time. The state’s medical program is a robust one, with more than 50 licensed dispensaries serving more than 20,000 patients with dozens of qualifying health conditions. Still no home-growing, though; five plants or fewer is a misdemeanor, and more than five is a felony. Here’s much more about weed in Illinois.

Indiana — Illegal

Indiana is basically the old curmudgeon who lives next door and keeps calling the cops on Illinois’ party. Possession of 30 grams (slightly more than 1 ounce) or less is a misdemeanor; possession of any greater amount is a felony for those with prior offenses. There’s a medical allowance for CBD containing less than 0.3% CBD, and while there are signs that expansion is on its way, for now the people of Indiana are left with one of the stricter cannabis laws in this country.

Iowa — Illegal

I have never been to Iowa and if you tell me it is a lovely place I will believe you, but it needs to get its shit together and stop demonizing medical marijuana (also any marijuana, but, y’know, gotta learn to crawl before you can… light a joint in public). Possessing any amount is a misdemeanor; growing or selling any amount is a felony. Iowa has a CBD-specific medical allowance but no actual medical marijuana legislation on the books (though 2018 could be its year). No home-growing, despite this being a land of abundant cropland and skilled farmers who could probably make a killing on this stuff.

Kansas — Illegal

Hey, there was going to be a medical marijuana program here! But now there’s not. Possession of any amount less than 450 grams (a bit under 16 ounces) is a misdemeanor; more than 450 grams with intent to distribute is a felony. Legislation allowing the state Department of Agriculture to cultivate hemp went through in 2018, but that’s about all there is to say about Kansas at the moment.

Kentucky — Illegal

“I was on my way to a music festival in Kentucky, going well above the speed limit, and got pulled over. They called in a whole squad and two dogs because they saw me biting my nails and figured that meant I was incredibly high. The cops tossed my car for 30 minutes and speculated that trash bags in my trunk were a body, while an older policeman told me of his younger days on LSD. I walked away with a $50 fine for a pinch of weed the dog sniffed out from the middle console. The officer told me that the penalty had changed two weeks earlier — from a full arrest, jail, everything.” — Sylvie Borschel

Growing fewer than five plants is a misdemeanor, while growing five or more is a felony. Possession of 8 ounces or less is a misdemeanor, though it’s worth mentioning that the charge carries a punishment of only 45 days in jail, which is… something. Kentucky has no medical program, but has legalized state-sponsored hemp research, which is… also more than nothing, I guess. It’s also widely accepted among Kentuckians that marijuana is likely the state’s most valuable cash crop, right beside tobacco.

Louisiana — Medicinal (not yet operational)

On the plus side (sort of?) first-time offenders in Louisiana charged with possession of 14 grams (a hair under half an ounce) or less only face 15 days’ jail time and a $300 fine ( … yay …). Louisiana does have a medical marijuana program, but this is one of those in-name-only situations — it allows only for CBD oil, which puts it in basically the same place as a state that doesn’t have a medical program but does permit low-THC CBD. There’s no consuming marijuana in a smokable form, and of course no home-growing. However, the state is expected to expand its medical program in summer 2018 to include additional qualifying health conditions. At least we can drink here.

Maine — Recreational

If you are of legal drinking age, you are also of legal possessing-2.5-ounces-or-less-of-recreational-marijuana age. You may also grow up to three plants at home. Retail stores aren’t quite a thing yet, but probably on their way within the next year or so. The cap for medical usage is still 2.5 ounces, though the limit on home-growing increases to six mature plants. The state has a solid medical program with dispensaries servings more than 50,000 registered patients.

Maryland — Medicinal and Decriminalized

Maryland has decriminalized recreational possession for amounts less than 10 grams (so just over a third of an ounce). Anything more is still a misdemeanor, but you’ll need to be caught packing a full 50 pounds (not a typo) to be charged with a felony. The medical legislation doesn’t allow home-growing, but the state’s 34 dispensaries serve nearly 20,000 people with a short list of conditions such as anorexia, chronic pain, and seizures.

Massachusetts — Recreational

Retail shops might open for the first time on July 1, but also might… not? Anyway, those of you in Massachusetts age 21 and up can legally possess 1 ounce of bud, and keep up to 10 ounces at home, for your pure unadulterated recreational pleasure. Home-growers can have up to six plants, though no more than 12 per residence. The medical program allows for a maximum of 35 dispensaries, which currently serve more than 45,000 registered patients. Here’s more info on getting weed in Massachusetts.

Michigan — Medicinal

“The first time I got ~very~high~indeed~ was at a buddy’s family cabin near Grand Haven, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. A few of us got blazed in the late afternoon and then shambled out to the Rosy Mound dunes. We climbed up the sand and sat 65 feet above the water to watch what can only be described as the greatest light show in the history of over-water sunsets — technicolor sky, a glowing grapefruit sun, waves strewn with orange confetti. We gushed to each other about how moved we all were — an honest-to-goodness emotional milestone, for a bunch of 20-year-old dudes to admit how they all just fell in love with nature en masse. Then we staggered home and passed out for 12 hours. There are no cops in this story; I just can’t believe a state that God blessed with so much westward-facing coastline still harbors a stick up its ass over sparking a bowl.” — Sam Eifling

Possession of any amount of green in Michigan is, at the very least, a misdemeanor. “Sale without remuneration,” meaning sharing your stash, is a misdemeanor, and any sale that’s actually a sale is a felony. Cultivating any number of plants is also a felony. But Michigan’s medical marijuana program allows for registered patients — of which there are well over 200,000 — to grow up to 12 plants and carry up to two-and-a-half ounces of weed.

Minnesota — Medicinal and Decriminalized

There is cool shit to do in Minnesota, but legally lighting up is not yet among them unless you have a medical license. Recreational possession of an amount equal to or less than 42.5 grams (1.5 ounces) is technically a misdemeanor, but it carries only a $200 fine, which while obviously not ideal is still more ideal than jail time. The state’s medical program is relatively modest — no home-growing and a maximum of eight dispensaries, which currently serve around 8,000 patients.

Mississippi — Decriminalized

Want legal weed in Mississippi? Vote, bitch. The Democrats challenging sitting Republican Senator Roger Wicker want to enact medical marijuana legislation. Right now there’s a CBD-specific (no more than 0.5% THC) allowance for qualifying conditions like severe epilepsy, but no real medical program. The state has decriminalized possession of up to 30 grams (so, 1 ounce) for first-time offenders — no jail time, $250 fine.

Missouri — Decriminalized

In Missouri you can purchase an entire meal made out of donuts, so one might say the state’s reluctance to legalize recreational weed is hurting small businesses. There’s a hefty fine, but no jail time in Missouri for first-time offenders carrying up to 10 grams (about a third of an ounce). For a second offense, or for up to 35 grams (about 1.25 ounces) the misdemeanor charge comes with a possible one-year sentence. Possession of larger amounts is a felony, and potentially gets you seven years in prison. There’s no real medical program here either, but Missouri does permit low-THC CBD for certain conditions, and — bonus! — state-sponsored hemp research.

Montana — Medicinal

Have you been to Montana? It is f*cking beautiful, and one day Montanans (yup, I checked) will be able to smoke freely in nature. Just not yet. Getting caught with up to 60 grams (a little over 2 ounces) can get first-time offenders six months in prison and a $500 fine; that spikes to three years and $1,000 for the next offense, and any amount greater than 60 grams is a felony — possible five-year sentence, $50,000 fine. Registered medical marijuana users, of which Montana has more than 25,000, can cultivate up to four mature plants plus four seedlings at home.

Nebraska — Decriminalized

First-time offenders caught with 1 ounce of jazz cabbage or less face a $300 fine, but no jail time. Second and third offenses for the same amount can carry sentences of five and seven days, respectively, plus $500 fines. The minimum for a felony charge — five years in prison, $10,000 fine — is a pound, or the sale of any amount whatsoever.

Nevada — Recreational

For a state at the forefront of questionable decisions, Nevada sure took its sweet time liberalizing its weed laws. But now you’re in business: adults 21 and up are clear to carry 1 ounce of recreational weed. (More than that is a misdemeanor, which means a $600 fine but no jail time, same as smoking up in public.) You can also share up to 1 ounce with no penalties; anything greater jumps to a felony charge. The medical program serves nearly 25,000 registered patients, who are permitted to carry up to 2.5 ounces and grow as many as 12 mature plants, depending on how far from dispensaries they happen to live. This state loves to tax vice (and Californians), so when you visit, bring your physician’s medical approval letter (even a smartphone photo counts) and you’ll get some sweet medical discounts — it might be the only state with such an allowance.

New Hampshire — Medicinal and Decriminalized

New Hampshire has decriminalized possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce for both first and second offenses — $100 fine, no jail time. Sale, or even possession with intent to sell, is a felony charge no matter the amount or track record, which I choose to believe subconsciously informs why I always type it as “New Hampshite” first and then have to fix it. The state’s medical marijuana legislation allows for registered patients (under a wide range of qualifying conditions) to carry up to 2 ounces, though it doesn’t allow for any home-growing.

New Jersey — Medicinal

My official journalistic opinion of New Jersey is that I went there once and it was boring. And while it may become one of the next states to legalize recreational weed, for the moment, at least, New Jersey remains boring. Worse, possession of up to 50 grams (about one-and-three-quarters of an ounce) carries a charge of “disorderly person,” which means six months’ jail time and a $1,000 fine. The state’s medical marijuana program recognizes a number of qualifying conditions (and recently added some new ones, such as anxiety and migraines) and limits patient possession to 2 ounces per month. No home-growing.

New Mexico — Medicinal

Can’t blame you if you wanna get a little silly before you go to Meow Wolf. First-time offenders caught with 1 ounce or less in New Mexico get 15 days’ jail time and a $100 fine, and then it just goes up from there. Distribution of any amount carries a felony charge. The medical legislation is more generous, though, recognizing a number of different conditions such as PTSD, anorexia, and arthritis, and allowing for 8 ounces every 90 days. Registered patients (there are upwards of 50,000) can grow as many as 16 plants at home so long as only four are mature at the same time.

New York — Medicinal and Decriminalized

What a time to be alive, living in New York, able to vote for Cynthia Nixon and her good-sense legalization platform. Living here can be… stressful, so perhaps it’s no surprise its residents consume more weed than any other metropolis on God’s green earth: 77.44 metric shit-tons of cannabis a year, twice as much as LA and 12 times more than the supposed Mile-High City of Denver. One of the perks of living here is I can order moderately overpriced weed from a service that delivers straight into my living room about as easily as I can order a pizza.

None of that is remotely legal, though the state of New York has decriminalized possession of amounts under 25 grams (a little over 0.88 ounces). First-time offenders face a $100 fine; for the second time, $200. Sharing one joint, or an amount under 2 grams, is a misdemeanor with an accompanying penalty of three months’ jail time and a $500 fine. There’s no home-growing under any circumstances — you can face up to a year in prison if caught — and the medical legislation here is confined to non-smokable forms of weed. More than 45,000 patients are registered.

North Carolina — Decriminalized

This state needs to legalize so you can smoke up with fairies and gnomes an’ shit without fear of (non-supernatural) repercussions. North Carolina has decriminalized cannabis in amounts up to half an ounce, though that’s still a misdemeanor carrying a $200 fine. Sale and/or cultivation of any kind is a felony, as one would expect in a state with a ‘roided-up tobacco lobby. The state has some allowances for hemp and low-THC CBD, and a full-fledged medical marijuana program is, hopefully, just around the corner.

North Dakota — Illegal

This is why people don’t like it here. Possession of an ounce of bud in North Dakota gets you 30 days in jail and a — wait for it — $1,500 fine. More than 1 ounce and and you’re looking at a felony charge that can translate to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Ohio — Medicinal (not yet operational) and Decriminalized

The most boring-ass state in the country got slightly less boring last year when it decriminalized weed in amounts up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces.) That misdemeanor charge comes with a $150 fine, but hey, no jail time. Double that amount and things start to get dicey, and anything above 200 grams is felony territory — a year or more in prison and a fine of at least $2,500. Like a few other states, Ohio has a medical marijuana program that’s been signed into law, but isn’t yet operational. One day, Ohio, you’ll be cool and people will move to you by choice.

Oklahoma — Illegal

Oklahoma is in my residual good graces because they built a boat district with a dope whitewater rafting course in the middle of their capital city, but it is not so very nice a place for pot smokers. Possession of any amount gets even first-time offenders a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. All sales carry a felony charge. There’s a CBD-specific medical allowance, but… yeah, that’s it.

Oregon — Recreational

“So then once the local Chicago cops finally got over the excitement of my eighth of weed and a roach, I reloaded my truck and arrived in Oregon … to a ticket telling me I had to return to court… which had been forwarded by my parents … to whose address the cops had mailed it. My mother was insisting she fly to meet me in court to make sure I wasn’t sent to prison. I paid like $300 and it went off my record, but only after the most awkward family reunion ever.” — Andy Kryza

God bless Oregon, legalizer of Satan’s spinach since 2014. There’s no fine and no jail time in the Beaver State for carrying up to 1 ounce of weed; up to 2 ounces means a $650 fine, but jail time doesn’t kick in until the amount is greater than that. Green thumbs can grow up to four plants at home without risking any fine or penalty. And for registered medical users, those numbers jump to 24 ounces and up to six plants, plus 18 seedlings. Love you Oregon.

Pennsylvania — Medicinal

Pennsylvania’s medical legislation covers a lot of different conditions. What the state does not have a lot of, though, are pot doctors, and the 15 dispensaries (give or take) can only sell concentrated resins, oils, tinctures, etc., and no flower — though the laws may be changing soon. Registered patients can’t home-grow any plants, and are only permitted to keep a month’s supply of weed around at a time. Which is why even prescription holders tend to resort to shady methods to get bud in Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island — Medicinal and Decriminalized

Lest all of RISD’s student population end up in the clink, Rhode Island has decriminalized amounts up to 1 ounce. Sales and cultivation still carry felony charges. Patients registered under the state’s medical marijuana program can legally carry up to 2.5 ounces and cultivate up to 12 plants and 12 seedlings at home, under the right conditions.

South Carolina — Illegal

Shocking somewhere between zero and zero people, first-time offenders in South Carolina caught with 1 ounce of weed or less face jail time and a $200 fine. If you get caught again after that, well, maybe just don’t? All sales are felonies, all forms of cultivation are felonies… you get the picture. There is a medical allowance for low-THC CBD, so that’s something.

South Dakota — Illegal

South Dakota is one of the most underrated states, definitely the more underrated Dakota, but you still may not get high there. An upcoming bill could potentially get the ball rolling for medical marijuana in South Dakota, but right now, possession of less than 2 ounces is a misdemeanor — a year in prison and a $2,000 fine — and anything more is a felony. Sales, though, are only felonies if the amount is greater than half an ounce (misdemeanor for less).

Tennessee — Illegal

Tennessee is against Netflix (using someone else’s account, anyway, but for most of you bums that’s the same thing) so I suppose it follows that the state is also against chill. Even half an ounce here is a misdemeanor that’ll get first-time offenders a year in prison and a $250 fine. Sale of any amount is a felony, cultivation of any amount is a felony, Tennessee is not fucking around. No medical program either, but legislation does allow for some hemp and CBD.

Texas — Illegal

Texas produced weed aficionado and immortal badass Willie Nelson, and so far that is the extent of its legacy in terms of normalizing marijuana. The Lone Star State got some buzz in 2015 when it passed the Compassionate Use Act — but don’t get too excited. The highly restrictive law only permits medical CBD containing trace amounts of THC for intractable epilepsy, and intractable epilepsy only. Other than that, pot laws in Texas are about what you’d expect from one of the most conservative legislatures in the nation.

Utah — Illegal

The state of Utah generously allows the state of Utah to grow hemp. Thanks, state of Utah. But the price for getting caught with weed here (like, even less than 1 ounce) starts at $1,000 and a six-month sentence. Double that for amounts up to a pound. And all because you wanted to get weird at the Arches… tsk tsk.

Vermont — Recreational

The Green Mountain State became, fittingly, the eighth to legalize recreational marijuana — and the first one to achieve this via the legislative process, as opposed to the ballot box — when Governor Phil Scott signed the H.511 bill in January 2018. Adults 21 and older can now legally carry up to 1 ounce, plus grow two mature and four additional immature plants at home. Medical users are permitted up to carry up to 2 ounces and grow as many as 12 plants.

Virginia — Illegal

Things aren’t so good in Virginia. First-time offenders carrying even less than half an ounce still can face 30 days in jail and a $500 fine; for subsequent offenses, you’re looking at a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. All sales are final — just kidding! They are felonies. One glimmer of light in this dark shitstorm is that Virginia recently expanded its medical CBD allowance from just intractable epilepsy to any diagnosed condition.

Washington DC — Recreational

I was living in DC when it legalized recreational weed in 2k14 under Initiative 71, and the weird bit is it’s still — in 2k18 — illegal to sell it here, so people are stuck in a weird limbo where they “gift” it to each other along with other items legally for sale (look, you can do it online). This has given rise to what’s sometimes called the “gray market” or “gray economy” of DC weed — search Instagram for hashtags like #dcweed or #i71 — along with a load of weed-themed events, including entire clubs, which the District then banned. Registered medical users can carry up to 2 ounces, but, like, so can everyone else.

Washington — Recreational

While I’m partial to Colorado because I grew up there and it has the superior breakfast burritos, Washington did tie for first to legalize recreational grass in 2012. You’re free to have an ounce or less, so long as you consume it all privately — public displays of smoking might get you a $100 fine, but no jail time.

Possession doesn’t become a felony charge until it hits 40 grams, or just under 1.5 ounces, and these days there are loads of dispensaries you can choose from. Plus, more than half of that sweet tax revenue goes to public health programs. Growing or selling your own weed is still a felony charge, so in that respect Washington is not as cool as certain other states, but then that’s none of my business. If you are in possession of a medical marijuana license, though, you can carry up to 3 ounces and grow as many as six plants at home.

West Virginia — Medicinal (not yet operational)

West Virginia is another one of those states where a medical marijuana program has been signed into law but it’s taking for-flippin’-ever; state-licensed dispensaries aren’t expected to arrive until next year. In the meantime, getting caught with any amount of weed in West Virginia can get you between 90 days and six months in prison.

Wisconsin — Illegal

This some b*llshit: any amount of weed in Wisconsin is punishable by six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Your second offense? A felony, punishable by three-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine. All sales are felonies, all home-growing is a felony… there are some allowances for hemp and CBD but jeeeez.

Wyoming — Illegal

So much for the untamed spirit of the West. Not only is any amount of green a misdemeanor in Wyoming, so is just plain “being under the influence,” and getting caught with anything over 3 ounces is a felony charge — five years in prison, $10,000 fine. Wyoming technically permits medical CBD, but hasn’t done much in the way of actually providing it. Womp womp Wyoming. Fortunately, only seven people live here.

LEAVE A REPLY